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Judge to rule Monday on case of alleged Vikings

A bevy of high school students visited the Supreme Court Friday to court to get their questions answered. — Telegram file
N.L. Supreme Court building in downtown St. John's. - SaltWire File Photo

Defence lawyers want charges dismissed due to trial delay

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

A Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge will decide Monday morning whether or not to dismiss charges against three accused Vikings Motorcycle Club members that were laid in 2016.

Vince Leonard Sr., Wayne Johnson and James Curran were charged with drug-related offences 30 months ago, on Sept. 28, 2016. By law, the court has 30 months to deal with charges in superior courts before they can be thrown out.

Their lawyers — Mike King, Mark Gruchy and John Hartery, respectively — have filed an application to have the charges dismissed under the court's 2016 Jordan ruling, which set the 30-month deadline unless there are exceptional reasons for the delay. A Jordan application can only be successful if the delays are proven to not have been the fault of the defence.

Justice David Hurley is scheduled to deliver his decision on the application on Monday.

King, Gruchy and Hartery have told the court that much of the disclosure in the case of their clients — hundreds of thousands of pages of documents — was not given to them by the Crown until last October.

"It is obvious now that the trial could never have proceeded." — Mike King

The men had been scheduled to go to trial Jan. 15 of this year. Proceedings were postponed after their lawyers successfully argued they didn't have enough time to review the 60,000 pages they received in the fall in order to build a defence.

Earlier this week, King detailed for the court a timeline of emails between himself and Crown prosecutors, in which he repeatedly asked for documents. At the time the men were arraigned in April of last year and a trial date was set for January, the defence still hadn't received all the disclosure they were looking for, King said.

"It is obvious now that the trial could never have proceeded," he told the court.

At the end of July, hundreds of thousands of pages were handed over, he said, and much of the information was unexpected. That led to requests for further disclosure, which wasn't received until October.

Wednesday morning it was Gruchy's turn to make closing submissions in the application, and he echoed King's arguments that it took 10 months after Leonard Sr., Johnson and Curran were charged to receive any meaningful disclosure.

In her closing submissions, prosecutor Elaine Reid explained what she said were complexities with the case, and argued that it was nine months, not 10, before disclosure had been provided.

"It's not accurate that the delay was solely the responsibility of the Crown," she said, adding that Gruchy had not been able to make room for the matter in his schedule at one point, causing it to be delayed.

"It's not accurate that the delay was solely the responsibility of the Crown." — Elaine Reid

Some of the Crown's delays were due to illness and were unforeseen, she said, pointing out the Jordan ruling makes room for such events.

If the court accepts the Crown's reasons, Reid said, it would push the deadline back by 2 1/2 months.

Leonard Sr., Curran and Johnson were three of 10 men alleged to be members or associates of the Vikings and charged as part of Operation Bombard, after police executed search warrants at a handful of locations in St. John's and Cupids. Among the items seized were cocaine, oxycodone pills, temazepam pills and a powder that contained fentanyl, as well as eight motorcycles, two pickup trucks, cash, weapons, photos and Vikings vests.

They are the last three of the accused to have their day in court.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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